Social media blackout is just the start as Martin wants to build all-inclusive culture at MK Dons

"We've not done this as a token gesture and we're going to follow up and work hard to look at ourselves constantly"

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 10:11 am
Updated Monday, 3rd May 2021, 10:32 am
MK Dons

Russell Martin wants to create a culture at MK Dons which makes anyone, regardless of gender, race or age, comfortable to be a part of.

With social media accounts across football and many major sports falling silent this weekend to prompt companies like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to do more to stop online abuse, Dons released a video featuring David Kasumu and Zak Jules speaking about racism and the issues they have faced as a result.

Martin said the video really opened his eyes to the sort of discrimination they have to endure, and he hopes he can continue to build a culture and structure at MK Dons which is inclusive for everyone to happily be a part of.

"They were incredible," said Martin of Jules and Kasumu. "I'm so proud of both of them not just for coming out for speaking but the way they spoke was so honest. It made us as a staff emotional for the stuff they've been through - it's not right but it continues to happen.

"We've not done this as a token gesture and we're going to follow up and work hard to look at ourselves constantly, and create a club culture where every person, of any age, male, female, black or white feels part of it and proud to be a part of it.

"Hopefully a few people have been challenged by it and they can question themselves. There is a lot of unconscious bias which some people aren't even aware of. It's about scraping the surface, challenging yourself and hopefully this blackout urges the social media companies to do something because it's unacceptable how easy it is now."

Kasumu and Jules both criticised the gesture of kneeling before kick-off in some games, and with the weekend's blackout, Martin says these gestures are just scratching the surface and they lead to more action to stop abuse.

He continued: "There has to be something that follows this. We've been kneeling all season but nothing has changed really on social media. It's relentless and it's ridiculous.

"We're all human beings, they're footballers doing their best for the club, giving everything they have to us and the game. They sacrifice so much for their dream to become players. But for anyone to be discriminated against for their race is outrageous, and it's outrageous that it's still going on.

"I don't have the solution, but people aren't trying hard enough to find the solution. It's about education. It's about these companies taking responsibility. Numbers aren't important, people are. It's putting money, numbers and stats first.

"We're forgetting what's most important, especially in a world where for 18 months people haven't been able to see their families, the world and life has changed but guys are having to deal with this all the time."